Recruitment Consultants

Soap Box: Is It Valid Or Accurate That Recruiters Call Themselves HR Consultants?

I was recently discussing with a business contact of mine who heads an HR Consulting firm very similar to Corporate Canary HR Consulting, on how we both experience quite often the confusion when we are meeting a new business contact on what it is we do. He commented that when in networking situations and the new person he was meeting asked what it is that he did that when he responded that he is an ‘HR Consultant’ or ran an HR Consulting/Outsourcing company they often would retort, ‘Oh, you are a recruiter then?’ or ‘Does that mean you do recruitment?’

I agreed in total recognition with him and it led us into the discussion that we had noticed that over the recent years or so that recruitment companies increasingly refer to themselves or their Recruitment Consultants as ‘HR Consultants’.
To be quite frank it bugged us. Why the change? Does the title Recruitment Consultant not carry any weight any more? Or was it more to the point that in order to appear to be adding more value to their clients that beefing up their title to HR Consultant will cut it?

Now I don’t mean create an ‘us and them’ platform here and I work in partnership with many HR Consultants…oops, I mean Recruitment Consultants, (now I’m confused!) who will openly, with hands up, admit that they don’t know about Human Resources practice or are qualified in the Human Resources profession and don’t claim to either. One recruiter contact openly stated proudly that ‘we are sales people, yup! we are in the business of people and skills trafficking and we make a good amount of money out of it’.

There are recruitment companies out there who under their tag of ‘Services’ offer “HR Consulting Services”, however when you look further into it they are resellers for payroll software companies and offer payroll outsourcing services. Once again is this really HR Consulting?

As an HR professional I have never administered payroll. Gasp! My focus was more on developing the strategy behind remunerating and rewarding employees. The payroll function (or distribution of said R&R strategy outcome) usually resided in the Finance Department as a ‘bean counting’ function, or to the point, making sure that each employee got the right amount of ‘beans’. I am not saying this is how it should be for all organisations, but it is most common. So should the Recruitment companies offering payroll solutions really be saying that they offer ‘Financial Consulting Services’ then?

A part of the confusion is that outsourcing of human resources strategic development and components is a relatively new comer to the HR realm. HR strategy and consulting companies have popped up in the last 5 – 10 years in greater numbers since the top line strategy of ‘outsourcing’ business functions enabled companies to become more competitive globally, whilst they focused on their core area of expertise.

Operational functions such as using recruitment agencies and administering payroll externally to the organisation has been around since the 70’s. The point here is that they are operational processes and procedures and not what I classify as ‘consulting’ or developing strategies that result in increased revenue. Do they save the company money? The jury seems to still be out on wether it does or doesn’t as over the years we have seen many instances of payroll and recruitment administration being centralised and then decentralised in and out of organisations like an Olympic ping-pong tournament.

So the way I look at HR Consultants as opposed to Recuitment Consultants is kind of like the medical profession. You have the qualified doctors and health practitioners who will diagnose the problem or illness that is making you sick (or not performing at your optimum), tell you what is causing it and prescribe a course of action or medication on what you need to do to get better. Then you go to the Pharmacist or health retailer to get the medication the doctor prescribed. Still a very important part of the process. It is vital and crucial they give you the right medication and advise you on how to take them, but they don’t call themselves doctors, even if they know a lot about symptoms and treatments.

HR Consultants help organisations develop effective strategy and solutions for all parts of the ‘HR lifecycle’ of an organisation. Some HR Consultants focus on a particular part of the HR lifecycle.

In the instance of developing an attraction and recruitment strategy it involves employer branding, ensuring the company has a broad and multiple talent sourcing avenues (of which using a recruitment agency is just one). HR Consultants identify and develop the skills, job tasks and KPI’s within the organisation that best align to the company’s top line strategies and goals. They also help determine the pricing for skills at various different levels and help organisations develop a remuneration structure that that pricing will fit into. So you don’t over pay and waste money or you don’t under pay, have staff leave and waste money.
You then need to find the right people with these skills. Now you can do this yourself or you can engage a recruitment company. The ‘HR Consultant’ also ensures that the organisation is working with the right Recruitment Company so you are getting the best possible reach to the right talent.

So at the end of the day what is the recruiters dictum or performance determined on?

To ensure their client saves money and increases revenue? or to ensure they reach a sales target?

Hmmm – What do you think?

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